While the metaverse itself is, by definition, intangible, its relevance to brands today is anything but. Last week, Ad Age In-Depth: Unlocking the Metaverse brought together experts from every corner of the marketing world to delve deep into the subject of the virtual wild west.
“If I was a marketer today, I’d be thinking, 'How do I make sure that my entire catalog of products is readily available in AR—every single product that you can try on, that you can try out, made available and ready,'” noted panelist David Roter, VP of global agency partnerships at Snap.
Now, Amp's own community of leading marketers have their say about everything from NFTs to building virtual brands and the Web 3.0.
The new virtual marketplace
A few years ago, exchanging real dollars for goods in an entirely virtual setting may have sounded like an activity reserved for headset-clad gamers spending their days in dimly lit basements. But the metaverse is quickly moving into the mainstream, representing a whole new marketplace for brands to explore, with real opportunities to connect in meaningful ways with consumers virtually.
“As its audience grows, the metaverse will become a new channel for brands to sell products, and unlike the current internet—a.k.a. Web2—in which payment mechanisms need to be built on top of services, Web3 naturally embeds payment rails on the blockchain, which facilitates transactions natively,” said Samuel Huber, CEO and founder of Admix. “Metaverse experiences cover the whole funnel from discovery to purchase, which makes it an ideal channel to invest in.”
The brands making the greatest impact within the metaverse are those who have managed to tap into what real value means to their customers in a virtual setting—or, more specifically, across multiple virtual settings.
“The metaverse is not one thing, it’s a disassociated collection of places and spaces, and the real innovators are not doing branded NFT drops,” said Todd Iorio, head of production at The Platform Group. “They are thinking about how they can bring value to the consumers’ online personality across as many channels as possible.” In a gaming context, explained Iorio, it all began with gamers forging connections in game lobbies with one another virtually, which opened up the possibility of two-way transactions.
“A game that provides tools for creators to design and share their own skins or levels can relatively easily allow those to be minted and sold as NFTs on a marketplace that encourages creators. The resulting game experience is richer, attracting new players to that world—another little planet in the metaverse—and generating revenue for both parties,” said Iorio. “When you can create in the metaverse and realize in IRL and back, you are truly engaged with your consumers.
This type of virtual play may be very close to the cliché any mention of the metaverse immediately calls to mind, but one thing the pandemic served to do was push the virtual limits for the everyday consumer.
“Right now, brands are testing metaverse engagements, and where consumers choose to participate—and spend money—will influence what moves from a marketing gimmick to something that shapes how the metaverse becomes less nebulous,” said Andrea Bolyard, director of public relations at Bader Rutter. “How easy it is to participate is going to be another factor in driving consumer interest, but over the past two years we’ve all become comfortable with a lot of new ways to connect and make purchases, so if there ever was a time for the metaverse to go mainstream, it’s now!”